Oral historian Pamela Brown Lavitt interviewed Ruth Frankel on August 7 and August 15, 2001 in Seattle, Washington as part of the Jewish Womenâs Archive "Weaving Women's Words" project.
Hebrew school teacher Ruth Frankel dedicated her life to Jewish education and the welfare of the Jewish people. Born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1916, she grew up in a close modern Orthodox home, attending Hebrew school from kindergarten until high school. Together with her sister, Lisbeth, Ruth emigrated to the U.S. in June 1938. Despite all their endeavors, Ruth and Lisbeth were unsuccessful in rescuing their parents, who had remained behind and eventually perished in Auschwitz. Ruthâs future husband, Joseph Frankel, apprehended during Kristallnacht, spent four months in Buchenwald before reaching England and then immigrating to the U.S. in 1940. Joseph and Ruth married that same year and in 1943, Joseph was inducted into the U.S. Army. After the war, the Frankels and their daughter moved to Seattle where Joseph was instrumental in starting a Religious School at Herzl Ner Tamid, a Conservative synagogue, serving as its principal and cantor. Ruth became active in the synagogue Sisterhood, voluntarily kept all school records, and taught second and third grade for 30 years in Seattle public schools. The Frankels regularly invited students for Shabbat at their home, part of Ruthâs âtotal devotion toâ and âtotal immersion in Judaism.â She died on October 6, 2012 at the age of 96.
Ruth Frankel photo: Credit Joan Roth. Joan Roth's website
In the early 2000s, the Jewish Women's Archive conducted oral history interviews with 30 Jewish women living in Baltimore and another 30 in Seattle. Born in the early decades of the 20th century, these women lived through decades of political, social, and economic upheaval, as well as dramatic changes in expectations and opportunities for women. Doctors and lawyers, teachers and saleswomen, judges and social workers, homemakers and community volunteers, the narrators represent a wide range of backgrounds, affiliations, and experiences of American Jewish women. To find out more and to see the online exhibits based on this project, visit Jewish Women's Archive/baltimore and Jewish Women's Archive/seattle
The complete audio recordings and transcripts of the interviews are available on the Internet Archive.
This project was made possible in part by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Brenda Brown Lipitz Rever Foundation, and the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, Inc. In Baltimore, the project was a collaboration with the Jewish Museum of Maryland; in Seattle, with the Museum of History and Industry.